The latest fitness industry recovery data reveals a varied impact on the sector. The 2020 coronavirus outbreak affected millions of lives around the world and continues to be felt. While the health impact continues to be of paramount importance, the economic fallout on many industries was also notable.

In this article – we explore the how Covid-19 impacted the fitness industry and recovery data based that provides insights into the new normal.

The pandemic forced thousands of gyms, fitness studios, and health clubs to close around the world. While some parts of the fitness industry (such as online training and home workouts) experienced a boom, the mainstream gym sector was hit hard. Many operators and owners couldn’t ride out the lockdowns and were forced to shut their doors for good. 

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Gym Closure Statistics

  • In the USA, there were more than 6 billion gym visits to 41,370 facilities pre-pandemic serving 71.5 million consumers [IHRSA 2020].
  • As of July 2021, 22% of gyms and fitness studios had closed their doors for good [IHRSA].
  • This equates to approximately 9100 fitness facilities [IHRSA].
  • The percentage was slightly higher (27%) among fitness studios specifically [IHRSA].
  • 64% of the world’s fitness sites were closed due to the pandemic. [Leisure Database Company]
  • 230 million exercisers globally were unable to attend the gym. [Leisure Database Company]
  • More than 10 million UK gym memberships were frozen when gyms closed in March 2020. [The Guardian]

Financial Implications

  • The health club industry lost $29.2 billion in revenue between March 2020 and June 2021. [IHRSA]
  • 1,500,000 fitness industry employees lost their jobs (that’s 47%). [IHRSA]
  • Studio operators who solely offer classes are unlikely to break even below 50% occupancy. [The Guardian]
  • Group exercise studios were expected to recover to 2019 levels by February 2021 and gyms by March 2021. [UK Active]

How Gym Member Habits Changed

  • 26% of US health clubs had more new members in Q2 2021, compared to the same quarter in 2019. [IHRSA]
  • Back in April 2020, 12% of US members surveyed said they’d be comfortable returning to the gym in 3 months, 11% in 6 months, 21% in more than 6 months, and 41% were unsure. [Statista]
  • Almost 90% of UK consumers intended to spend the same or more on being active after lockdown. [HCM]
  • 88% of UK survey respondents say they’ll use gyms and leisure centres ‘more’ or ‘the same’ when they reopen (8% said less and 4% said they won’t return). [UK Active]
  • Almost 46% said they were missing motivation from gym and class instructors, and 33% said they missed socialising associated with the gym. [HCM]
  • Around 12% or 1.2 million UK members previously paid for a gym membership they never used, so weren’t likely to continue paying after lockdown. [The Guardian]
  • However, 35% of non-members were likely to join a facility after lockdown. [UK Active]

Impact on Yoga Studios & Industry

Here’s how Covid impacted the yoga industry…

  • Home workouts – interest in home yoga workouts increased during lockdowns around the world. This has continued although with reduced demand since things opened up again.
  • Studios – unfortunately, some studios went out of business as a result of the financial situation, the amount of government support available to them, and whether they could secure agreements with their landlord, creditors, etc.
  • Return – some customers were hesitant to return to studios initially, due to concerns over being in enclosed spaces. Those financially impacted due to layoffs or furlough had less money to spend on memberships, clothing, accessories, and so on due to the economic recession, loss of jobs, and reduction in disposable income.
  • Recovery – yoga studios are bouncing back and are a consistently popular wellness trend. People visit them for an experience – like a spa on a budget. They enjoy the serene atmosphere, sandalwood scents, and minimalist decor. This isn’t something that can be replicated at home so studios shouldn’t fear that YouTube workouts will cannibalize their sales. 

Overall, the fitness industry has bounced back from Covid but not yet recovered fully. We continue to monitor emerging market data and new gym industry research that can provide more insights. As additional information becomes available, we’ll update this article with the latest statistics.  

We’ve spent 15+ years working in the fitness industry, from leading gym chains to global equipment manufacturers, so know the market inside-out. We proactively study the ever-changing landscape, highlight new trends, and analyse the big players, so that you don’t have to. For the last 5 years, we’ve shared this expertise with the wider industry through our Research Reports which are available to purchase.

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  • Fitness industry revenue & growth by market segment
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  • Insights into the boutique fitness studio & personal training segments
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For more comprehensive Covid fitness stats and detailed information, check out the sources…

Caroline @ Wellness Creative Co

Qualified personal trainer (BSc Sports Science) & nutritionist (MSc Human Nutrition) with 15+ years of fitness & wellness marketing experience working with global brands.